Ohio Dram Shop Laws

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What are dram shop acts?

Dram shop acts, or dram shop laws, are laws which are designed to make business establishments liable for the injuries or damages caused by persons to whom they have sold alcohol. For example, if a bar or tavern sells alcohol to a patron, and that patron then injures someone in a car accident, the dram shop law allows the plaintiff to recover damages from the bar as well as the intoxicated person.
Most dram shop laws require bars and taverns to stop selling alcohol to persons who are obviously intoxicated, and prohibit sales to minors as well. Most states have some form of dram shop act in place, though they vary widely from state to state. 

What does Ohio’s dram shop act address?

According to Ohio’s dram shop law, persons who were injured by an intoxicated person may have a cause of action against the business establishment who sold them the alcoholic beverage. The business’ liability depends somewhat on where the injury actually occurred:
·        On the premises: If the injury occurred on the business owner’s premises, or in a parking lot under their control, the business owner will be held liable if the injury was caused by the negligence of the business or a business employee.
·        Off premises: A business owner or employee may be held liable for injuries that occurred off premises if the establishment sold alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated, or if the person was a minor. These injuries may include automobile accidents as well as attacks or fist fights. 

How serious is a dram shop act violation in Ohio?

Violations of dram shop ordinances by business establishments are considered to be only a minor offense in the state of Ohio. Offenders are usually subjected to a fee ranging from $25 to $100. 
However, business owners who violate dram shop laws may be subjected to other penalties in a court of law, including punitive damages in severe cases. Punitive damages are intended to deter unlawful conduct and can sometimes involve very large monetary amounts. 

Should I contact a lawyer for a dram shop claim?

Violations of dram shop laws are serious and can often involve several parties, including the business owner, the patron, as well as any injured third parties. Regardless of what party you are associated with, working with a lawyer can be essential in order ensure that your rights are represented as against the many competing interests. A well-informed lawyer can also keep you updated with any changes to Ohio dram shop laws.  

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Last Modified: 07-29-2010 02:15 PM PDT

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